Poverty in your coffee cup
Charis Gresser, Sophia Tickell
There is a crisis destroying the livelihoods of 25 million coffee producers around the world. The price of coffee has fallen by almost 50 per cent in the past three years to a 30-year low. Farmers sell at a heavy loss while branded coffee sells at a hefty profit. The coffee crisis has become a development disaster whose impacts will be felt for a long time. Families dependent on the money generated by coffee are pulling their children, especially girls, out of school. They can no longer afford basic medicines, and are cutting back on food. Beyond farming families, coffee traders are going out of business. National economies are suffering and some banks are collapsing. Government funds are being squeezed dry, putting pressure on health and education and forcing governments further into debt. The scale of the solution needs to be commensurate with the scale of the crisis. Oxfam is calling for a Coffee Rescue Plan to make the coffee market work for the poor as well as the rich. The plan needs to bring together the major players in coffee to overcome the current crisis and create a more stable market. This accessible report, with illustrations and many visual aids, outlines the extent of the crisis in the coffee market and the reasons behind it, and presents a strategy for action.
|Intensive farming techniques reduce quality and degrade the land|
|No alternatives: declining commodities and the failure of rural development|
|Lack of alternatives to coffee as a cash crop|
|Depending on declining commodities|
|Too little value captured|
|Failure to deliver on rural development|
|Farmers' and workers' organisation under attack|
|Too little training and support|
|Bad loans, no new credit|
|Weak rural infastructure|
|Declining aid and double standards: farmers betrayed by the donors|
|3. Niche markets - an escape route? Not for all|
|Fair Trade: a glimmer of hope|
|Specialty brands capturing high value|
|Running for the same exit?|
|No grounds for inertia|
|4.Getting out of crisis: a strategy for action|
|Restore the balance of supply and demand|
|Restore quality and raise productivity|
|Raise prices, revive livelihoods|
|Retain and build value-adding capacity|
|Establish real alternatives for rural development|
|Recommendations: A Coffee Rescue Plan|
|Oxfam's work with coffee producers|
|Oxfam International contact details.|
Charis Gresser is the Head of Research at Meteos specialising in healthcare and business with a background in journalism and strategy analysis. She was a columnist for the Financial Times’ Lex column for six years in both London and New York, covering a wide range of business and economic topics. Her business experience includes a position as analyst in the strategy department of media and education group Pearson.
Sophia Tickell is Founder and Director of Meteos, with specific interest in healthcare, climate change and food. For the past fifteen years she has worked to bring social equity and environmental considerations into the board rooms of global companies. From 1995 -2004 she had senior policy roles at Oxfam, initially as a trainer in advocacy techniques in various countries including Nepal, Zambia, and Colombia and then as Senior Policy Advisor in the private sector.
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